I am a big fan of Ubuntu Server. It’s exactly what you need for a server, no fancy UI, just services.
Dealing with all the text configuration files can be a time consuming task and there is something that can help a lot. It’s called Webmin and it is a web interface for configuring your linux box.
You need to install first some perl-related libraries required by webmin:
The you need to download the latest webmin archive (this might change in time). I am downloading the Debian package:
Install the Debian package with dpkg, not Aptitude:
sudo dpkg -i webmin_1.500_all.deb
* Your downloaded version may differ. Just use the deb package you’ve just downloaded.
Enjoy your Webmin installation at https://[serverIP]:10000 .
What I am normally doing is forwarding the port 10000 out of my router and access my webmin from anywhere on the internet. You can forward it to another port and to be user-friendly and easy-to-remember you can use DynDNS to pick a nice name.